What do you think? Should humans merge with machines?
Technology is transforming our world at unprecedented speed. Beyond technology successes or wealth creation, the possible relationships between humans and machines are essential that they define how we create, work, participate in the world, and expand our humanity.
Well, Elon Musk said something that got serious attention. Elon Musk’s company NeuraLink prepares to merge the brain with artificial intelligence. He says humans should become cyborgs. He says it’s humanity’s only hope to survive the upcoming advancement of artificial intelligence that will take over the world.
Have you ever heard about Cyborgs? The half-human and the half-robot from sci-fi movies and comics. Cyborgs are among us already. They are the future of technology.
Don’t believe it? The real-life cyborgs are out there, individuals who have willingly become half-human, half-machine. All of them are inspiring forerunners of the future, and none of them are “Terminators” — at least not yet.
British artist Neil Harbisson is the first Cyborg recognized by the government in the world. Born with extreme color blindness known as achromatopsia, in 2004, he had an antenna permanently implanted in his brain that enables him to perceive colors as sound, and is now able to experience colors beyond the range of human perception.
As co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation and one of the world’s most recognized cyborgs, Neil expects humans to be more open to the possibility of technology being inserted into their bodies early.
Jesse Sullivan helps the movement pioneer in the use of cybernetic technology for amputees. In 2001, Sullivan became one of the earliest cyborgs in the world when he was fitted with a bionic arm through the implementation of a nerve-muscle graft.
Warwick has been experimenting since 1998 with various electronic implants, when he “installed” a microchip in his arm that enabled him to operate doors, lights, heaters, and other computers remotely as he moved from room to room.
Naumann became the world’s first person to get an artificial vision system. Through brain implants his electronic eye is directly connected to his visual cortex. In contrast to other cyborg implants that translate visual information into a different sense, such as touch or sound, Naumann actually “sees” the world. Although it has its limits (he can only see the lines and shapes in a blurred way), his vision has been technically restored.
Jerry Jalava is the perfect example of how you don’t need to be a genius of robotics to become a cyborg; you can do it yourself pretty much. Jalava wanted to insert a 2 GB USB port into his prosthetic after losing a finger in a motorcycle accident. It doesn’t upload information directly into its nervous system (ala “The Matrix”), but it’s more convenient than a USB keychain, at least.
Future of Cyborg Technology
Google has patented a new technology to develop cyborg lenses. With these lenses, people would never need contacts or glasses again. They might not even need a microscope or telescope. These lenses could automatically adjust to help your vision and could also connect to a nearby wireless device.
Cyborg insects are proposed to be useful in military contexts such as surveillance and the detection of explosives for search and rescue operations. By effectively surveying areas inaccessible to rescue teams, these remote-controlled insects could help find people buried under collapsed buildings. U.S military is planning to field cyborg soldiers by 2050.
Researchers have built mind-controlled robotic limbs that connect directly to the brains. They have made primitive bionic eyes, which gives the blind the primary vision. They even designed artificial hearts that replaced biological ones. Needless to say that we are entering the bionic age.
So why isn’t this daily news? Why don’t all amputees have robotic arms, and all blind people have bionic eyes.
Well, the answer is simple. All of this technology is very new and very expensive. Primitive eyes and artificial hearts cost hundreds of and thousands of dollars. Robotic limbs usually cost millions of dollars. They are not even available to the general public. An average person cants afford such expensive technology.
So how humans become cyborgs if less than 1 percent of the population can afford it?
Well, like any other technology, overtime these bionic parts will gradually become affordable to the average citizens. People will start going bionic not because of the physical condition but because bionic is better. We will transform into cyborgs.
What about the possibility of being hacked?
That’s certainly a concern. We are not cybersecurity experts, nor it’s possible to know the security gaps of future augmentation systems. Still, it’s a real possibility that these systems run a chance of being hackable. However organic brains are just as hackable with an off switch to consciousness being discovered in 2014, and recently scientists discovered a proof of principle that memories can be erased as well. It is only a matter of time till a country or an individual weaponizes brain manipulation, and unlike machines, upgrading the software and hardware of the organic brain will likely be much harder.
In the future, cyborg technology will change the lives of ordinary people. Due to natural evolution and the desire to improve human performance, humans may become cyborgs!
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